Earlier this week, Crown Resorts Ltd. was granted final approval by the New South Wales government to develop a casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct on Sydney Harbour. Now, Crown Resorts Chairman, billionaire James Packer, has proposed a $60 million philanthropic contribution to the Sydney/Western Sydney arts community, as part of a joint 10-year commitment from the recently established Crown Resorts Foundation (CRF) and the Packer family.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, Packer pledged $30 million from Crown Resorts and $30 million privately from the Packer family. The contributions are to begin in the 2014/15 financial year. It has been proposed that the fund, which will be administered by the Crown Resorts Foundation Board chaired by Helen Coonan, will be known as the Crown Resorts Foundation Sydney Arts Fund and that half of the funding will be committed to and spent in Western Sydney.
“The people of Sydney have been wonderful to my family and we feel very lucky to live in this community,” Packer said. “As a philanthropic contribution, this long term commitment is comparatively modest, but our hope is that the funding will contribute positively to these cultural institutions and allow them to reach out further, ensuring many more people can access their artistic endeavors."
He continued: “I am most excited about providing funding for Western Sydney arts projects. For too long the vast majority of Sydney's population has missed out on this sort of endeavor and many of these organizations have had to exist on the tightest budgets. I know local Western Sydney organizations will make the funds go a long way and touch many people's lives for the better. I may not be the most committed art and theatre goer, but I know from my own family how much joy the arts can provide; all Sydneysiders should have access to see the very best art and performances.”
Distribution of the proposed Crown Resorts Foundation Sydney Arts Fund will include:
- $30 million to Sydney art and cultural institutions; Sydney Theatre Company to receive $15 million, Art Gallery of NSW $10 million and $5 million to organisations including the MCA, Bangarra Dance Company, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Opera House and a number of others.
- A further $30 million to Western Sydney Arts; allowing organizations and institutions to apply for funding and awarded on merit. It is envisaged there will be a mix of CRF funding for capital, art programs and scholarships for the people of Western Sydney.
“Crown has always worked very hard in the charitable and CSR areas,” said Crown Resorts Chief Executive Rowen Craigie. “We understand the importance of supporting the communities we operate in and are very excited in regard to the future endeavors of the Crown Resorts Foundation. The proposed Arts Fund will be one element of a larger national philanthropic commitment from Crown that will be announced through the CRF in the first half of 2014."
The new Sydney gaming resort is expected to be operational beginning in November 2019 and will feature 350 hotel rooms and suites, 80 luxury apartments, restaurants and bars, and conference rooms. However, the agreement between the state and Crown requires that it be restricted to “VIP” clients, feature no low-limit bets, and offer no poker machines, or "pokie machines" as they're called in Australia. It will compliment Crown’s other two properties in Australia in Melbourne and Perth.
As many poker players know, the Crown's Melbourne property hosts the southern hemisphere’s largest poker tournament – the Aussie Millions – each year. In early 2014, the poker world will have its eyes fixated on Crown Casino in Melbourne for the 2014 Aussie Millions. Starting on Thursday, Jan. 23 and running through Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, the series will feature 20 spectacular events.